It's not about the coffee...

Coffee shops have always had a special place in my life. My earliest foggy memories of fancy foam-topped drinks were with my stepfather who died when I was 11. After that there was the chocolate shop near my dance studio where at the tender age of 12 my friend Masha and I ordered coffee, fancying ourselves adults. We would occasionally allow ourselves tiny chocolate truffles with coffee beans on top, swearing that we would do 100 sit-ups as penance.

There was Curious Liquids, now a Fox news studio, where I had my introduction both to queer culture and $4 lattes. And then there was Tealuxe where I spend many a truant high school afternoon solving the world's problems with Miri, and where I met Nassira as a college freshman. There was 1369 where my first real girlfriend and I spent the better part of a year taking turns breaking up with each other before finally making a clean break at Pete's. And there was Espresso Royal where I clocked almost as many hours during my undergrad years as I did in the photo lab.

The list doesn't end there of course. Being a traveling sort I get attached to types of place rather than specific geographical locals so there is Ritual in San Francisco, and the Grey Cat in Reykjavik. In Jerusalem I spent many an afternoon at Tzmul Shelshom, and the Marquis de Sade captured my heart in Prague. There was TonKaow, which being the only shop in all of Sa Kaow with a working espresso machine made me wonder if I had a homing beacon built in when I found it. In Montreal there were too many options and I had too little time to pick a favorite, and in Paris I fell in love with the cute little crepe place on the Mont Marte just near Dima's house with all those old photographs pinned to the wall.

I have a theory that while some people rearrange themselves to fit their surrounding others recreate their natural habitat like polar bears in a Florida zoo. I am one of the latter. Half way around the world, in a country where a cup of coffee costs more than a meal I seek out coffee shops. My definition of "coffee shop" has expanded to include a tent on the side of the road that houses an espresso machine and blender but has no running water. No matter, I'm not there for the water. And so I get home from work, ignore the 11 varieties of tea, strainers, coffee, and French press in my kitchen, grab a book and a magazine and head out to the coffee tent where after three months the proprietor is still confused that I would want to sit and read my book rather than taking my coffee home.